Pregnancy is an exciting proposition full of beautiful moments and more than a few unknowns. Your skin probably isn’t your number one concern during your pregnancy, but maintaining healthy skin for these important nine months is easier than it sounds.
There are a few different ways pregnancy impacts your skin, and some are harder to avoid than others. Pregnant women will notice a number of changes to their skin, with most clearing up after you have your child. Common, temporary changes include darkening freckles or moles, acne, and linea nigra (a dark line running from the belly button to the pelvic bone). All of these conditions generally clear up following pregnancy, but that’s not always the case. The good news is that your dermatologist can treat any lingering skin conditions with a number of services, including many that are not safe to use while you’re pregnant.
Physical changes to your skin can cause stretch marks, perhaps the most-feared skincare side effect of pregnancy. Stretch marks are far from the only way pregnancy affects your skin, but they are very visible. Wherever your skin must quickly accommodate growth beneath it, stretch marks are likely. During pregnancy, stretch marks will appear as red or pinkish streaks on your breasts or abdomen. About 90% of pregnant women report stretch marks to some degree, and they are not easy to prevent or reduce during your pregnancy. After pregnancy, your stomach will begin to return to its new normal, and stretch marks fade to a much less harsh, paler color. There isn’t a lot to do in terms of preventing stretch marks unfortunately, but there are ways to keep some at bay. Gaining weight during pregnancy is natural and to be expected, but how you gain that weight can mean more stretch marks. Quick weight gain from pregnancy, or in general, will cause more stretch marks and they will be more pronounced. There are a number of products out there that promise to prevent stretch marks, but they are little more than moisturizers. These can indeed help prevent itching and discomfort on the skin’s surface as it grows, but no treatment has proven effective at preventing stretch marks outright. There are medications your dermatologist can offer after you have given birth, including medications including retinoids or hyaluronic acid to help fade these stretch marks. Additionally, laser therapy has worked to help even out skin color and reduce the appearance of stretch marks. Unfortunately, there is no miracle tonic for stretch marks, but your dermatologist does have a few options to make things better.
Acne doesn’t just plague teens. In fact, the other population of people hardest hit by acne are pregnant women. This is because acne’s primary cause is the overproduction of sebum, or oil in the skin. Your skin’s oil production can skyrocket in response to higher concentrations of certain hormones, which happen to be associated with both puberty and pregnancy. When the sebaceous gland produces too much oil, it’s very likely to become clogged. A clogged sebaceous gland fills with sebum and may become inflamed, forming a pimple. If you’re predisposed to acne, pregnancy only makes it worse, and a lot of acne medications cannot be used while pregnant. Almost all oral anti-acne drugs like isotretinoin and adapalene can be dangerous to your health and the health of your child. Antibiotics which are sometimes prescribed to treat acne are also risky to take during pregnancy, though they are usually safe in the first fifteen weeks. Instead, when you’re pregnant and facing acne, you’re going to need to approach it the old fashioned way.
If you’re used to caring for acne-prone skin, you may need to step up your game and follow a stricter routine. Only wash your face at night and in the morning, making sure that you don’t use over the counter products that include pregnancy as a contraindication. While salicylic acid’s effects on pregnancy aren’t fully understood, most dermatologists and obstetricians err on the side of caution and recommend you cease using it. Salicylic acid and other acne treating substances can all pose risks to you or your baby’s health. This will likely continue to be a mystery, as studies on pregnant women are not often performed. Finally, to help keep oil from building up in your skin, use astringents and oil-free cleansers that are free of acne medications to round out your routine.
Pregnancy glow is real—your blood flow increases while pregnant so your skin does look more radiant, and increased oil production can help give you that air of serenity. Unfortunately, the glow can lead to acne as well. If you’re struggling to keep up with your changing skin while you’re pregnant, consider reaching out to the experts at Northeast Dermatology Associates for a little help.
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